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Everything posted by Lilija

  1. Lilija

    Coke Recipe

    I'm not really at liberty to talk much about it, as I work in a lab, but our current project is sweeteners. Yes, in a professional laboratory setting, I have tested HFCS and pure sucrose syrup in a blind taste test, along with hundreds of other sweeteners, both natural and artificial, and yes there is an ENORMOUS difference between just those two. If they tasted the same, I would probably be out of work.
  2. Oooh! I just like the "butter" salt. I really really like the "butter" salt...
  3. Lilija

    Cheddar Fondue

    What a great idea! That looks nearly the same as my own recipe, but sub in hard cider for the wine, and a few tablespoons of concentrated apple juice for the whiskey...now you have my gears turning, what if I subbed in the whiskey for the apple juice concentrate? That could be incredible.... It's like..all my favorite things in the universe, all melted together. As far as all the other replies, everything here sounds totally spot on. I don't think I could get every single suggestion on my table, but if this goes over well, it could potentially become a 'thing' and...all these ideas are going to get used, I'm sure. Keep em coming! Every reply is pure concentrated genius. I love this forum.
  4. Lilija

    Cheddar Fondue

    Oh, those all sound good! Pears, roasted potatoes, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms would all really round things out. I might even have some duck fat in the freezer left over from the holidays. I can't believe I didn't think of potatoes, of all things.
  5. Lilija

    Cheddar Fondue

    I'm having a small, informal gathering tomorrow night, and due to the snow, I can't get a solid number of people that are coming over, somewhere between 8 and 14, so I figured what better way to feed a varying number of people stumbling in at all hours of the evening. Everyone's bringing different beers to try, so I figured a uniting sort of meal that would go with almost any beer would be a cheddar/hard cider fondue. Here's what I have for dippers already: An assortment of breads, I'll see what looks good at the bakery tomorrow, but probably sourdough, pumpernickel, and maybe something crusty Kobanosa (which is a thin, double smoked, half dried Polish sausage, also called "TV Kielbasa" for it's snackability) various cornichons and olives apples grapes soft pretzels raw veggies (carrots, broccoli, cauliflower) I'm considering blanching these. After that, I'm kind of blanking out. I want more on the table. I need more ideas for things to dip. It can be wacky, but this crowd is not up for gastronomic challenges, for the most part.
  6. This is a great topic! My son is 12, and when he was a toddler, I had fantasies of formal cooking lessons, in the kitchen, scheduled "cook with the kid" days, small bowls and aprons, and all that. I love looking back on how silly I was, as a new parent. I really like your method of payment, it's so organic, and it really works on many levels. We use monetary motivation for my son in many other ways, and it's great to teach the concept of working for your dollars. I suppose external motivations got my own kid in the kitchen, too. The boy loves food. He wakes up in the morning thinking about food, talks about food, bugs me about food, and is constantly underfoot in the kitchen, getting all up in my business. So, at a young age, I turned this Pac-Man like eating obsession into a productive teaching tool. Under close supervision, from around age five, I would say "you make it." It started with really easy stuff, like toaster waffles and peanut butter sandwiches, but now he's on to meals that would make any short order cook, or college student proud, poached eggs in ramen noodles, French toast, myriad and ever evolving sandwich like creations. That's one way he's active and interested in cooking. It seems to have organically evolved around his budding independence, and his personal tastes. With that, at least I know he'll be able to handle cooking for himself when he's on his own. On a higher level, I am constantly engaging him in what I do, much like you mentioned, but I can never call him into the kitchen for any sort of lecture, because that is instant boredom. If I'm making something, and he comes sniffing around, I'll give him a job to do, free samples (chef treats are a bigger motivator to this kid than money, I think), and we discuss the nature of things, like your list up there. When we go shopping together, I sort of muse out loud about that, too. Often I'll involve him in the decision making process, when we're shopping. When he selects ingredients, or has a hand in figuring out what we're going to eat, he's more likely to come investigate when I'm in the kitchen, opening the doors to even more discussion. I talk a lot to myself, like a TV cook, too, and he stops me and asks questions. When I'm chattering on, I make sure to include the reasons for everything. Why flour helps breading stick, why this cut of beef for braising and not that one, stuff like that. Nothing hugely complex. Lately, he's been getting more and more into complex prep, like he breaded an entire pan of eggplant for eggplant parm, not too long ago, and helped fold the million won tons I made for New Years Eve. He gets a lot of positive reinforcement, and he, like his father, seems to not only love doing tedious little repetitive kitchen tasks, but has a natural hand for it (thank goodness, because every won ton I folded looked like I dropped it on the floor and stepped on it afterwards). I think that's part of it, too. We're all active in the kitchen, and he loves to be in the middle of things, with us. We're all standing around the table, peeling potatoes, and talking, he comes in and joins the conversation, I hand him off a potato, and he kinda falls into it. But, and I'm sure you know...the minute I ASK him to do something, all hell breaks loose. There are some downsides. Because he's 12, he's got an enormous ego. He goes to my mother's house, and will vocally (but politely, at least) criticize her methods, there's a long list of foods that he simply refuses to eat (like most things on his school lunch menu), and he's overall a total snob. Which alternately makes me smile, and makes me want to smother him in dough.
  7. We have a giant Keurig machine, and about 20 different kinds of the little tubs. I can't take pictures, because I work in a lab, but it's a sprawling monster that takes up half the break lobby. I generally avoid it, since I'm not there 9-5, and have coffee at home.
  8. Is this the place where I can talk about Taco Bell hot sauce? Because the lovely folks always give us too much, and I bring it home and store the packets in my pantry. I use them on many things, including my own homemade bean burritos, various breakfast dishes, grilled cheese, arroz con pollo... No, the bottled taco sauce from the grocery store doesn't cut it, either. That was my first attempt at solving this issue. The second best taco sauce is La Victoria Salsa Brava, Hot.
  9. I love my Ninja so much, I don't even put away the motor thingy anymore. I use it for all blending and food processor chopping tasks. Good stuff. It makes the loveliest foamy hot chocolate. It makes the loveliest salsa. I use the small canister more than the larger pitcher. I make a fast salad dressing in it with a few tablespoons of oil and vinegar, and some seasonings. Everything about this little machine is awesome. I got it as a gift last year, and it's so great. Mine has two each of the pitcher, and the small canister, and 2 blade assemblies for each size. Edit: The blade can also cut through flesh and never dull. I stepped on the double blade for the pitcher, and it sliced a very deep line in my heel, and it's fine! My heel...less so.
  10. I use yellow to make dal, a lot. They can sub in for lentils, for various things, if you don't mind the different texture, they're thicker and more porridgy. My husband has a weird food quirk where he dislikes that particular split pea color green, (and guacamole) so, when I make it at home, I use yellow grudgingly. I prefer green, they seem sweeter, maybe. Green is the best for soup, in my opinion. Maybe it's just because I don't use them at home as much as I'd like.
  11. Lilija


    If you like chili, you could put cubes of pumpkin in your favorite chili recipe. I make one with all black beans, cocoa powder, and diced pumpkin standing in for the meat (or other winter squash, or sweet potatoes)
  12. We usually quit... ok, well, sometimes we like to cut back on- eh, that's a lie. I went four days without drinking once, and ate a turkey hot dog. That must count for something.
  13. I was gifted the pumpkin spice. I thought it was nice, but a bit sweet. We wound up using some of it in coffee, then making a pitcher of shots out of it, for a drinking game. We mixed it with complimentary flavors, cinnamon, vanilla, and hazelnut liqueurs, and dark rum as I recall. It was a nice autumn night party shooter.
  14. Party plans have been canceled, we decided not to drive the hour to hang out with boring family, stay at home, and be boring in our own happy way, drinking the Christmas-gift booze, and eating the way we like to eat. We can't settle on any one cuisine. Dim Sum, Japanese nibbles, maybe stuffed tofu, spring rolls, dumplings of some sort. We're going to the huge Asian superstore tomorrow morning, with no real list, just a few ideas, and an open mind. I want Spam musubi(!!) and umeboshi. He wants chirashizushi. I want a soup of some sort, and maybe some chicken wings or chicken karage. It's just the four of us, we're not having a proper dinner, just going to make things and eat them, and play video games till we pass out. I have lots of fun new beers to try, too. It'll be extremely immoderate consumption of the highest order, and now freed from the boring party plans, we're looking forward to tomorrow with light hearts, and a huge appetite.
  15. There's always ham! Ham is a crowd pleaser, easy to get, and can be dressed up or down, as your group requires.
  16. I wish I could help, I live a few towns away, but I'm not sure of any places. I even did some asking around through friends, and friends of friends. It would be a good thing to know, in general. I will say, though, that Woodbridge isn't terribly far off. Maybe a half hour from Middletown, depending on what end of Middletown you're at.
  17. Welcome! Besides the ingredients I graced over, I usually use a bit of coconut milk, and a few eggs whipped in to give it a very light custardy sort of appeal. No sugar in the body of it, just the topping. It's not sweet, really, I season the potatoes with a little salt and black pepper, and if I'm making it for my crew, some sort of heat, like cayenne or chili flakes goes in. I think all of us can get along here, sweet sweet potato lovers, unsweetened sweet potato lovers, and those of us that walk the middle ground
  18. Since there was a moratorium on sweet stuff, I refrained from discussing a holiday favorite, a dish of sweet potatoes whipped with rum, tons of ginger and cardamom, and crushed pineapple,then topped with a mixture of pecans, coconut, and yeah...a sprinkling of brown sugar. Like, half a cup for 4 pounds of potatoes. And yeah, it's excellent. I serve it with ham, usually. I think a lot of people are just scarred from the syrupy canned dealies, loaded with sugar and blanketed under marshmallows. Since I wasn't raised around sweet potatoes at ALL, if this shows up on a table, I eat some. It's not my favorite thing, but it's definitely different, and I like the sweet-sweet flavor...just sometimes.
  19. My son discovered a "mixed drink" that he loved, at a Beaches in Jamaica. It might fit with your mai tai theme. I forgot what it was called, something like Pineappleapple, or something silly like that. It consisted of equal parts pineapple juice, apple juice, and 7up. It has a nice gold color, and looks good with a pineapple and cherry garnish. It's pretty tasty, even. You could do something like that, for them, in a punchbowl, and float fruit and sorbet on top.
  20. Lilija


    I like their new "pick 2" thing, it's a half sized salad and a side, so I generally go with the chicken apple pecan salad, which I REALLY like, as in, it would even be good at a non fast food place, and a chili, or some nuggets. Their spicy chicken sandwich is my favorite fast food chicken representation (since I don't eat at Chick-fil-a for moral reasons). Of the choices here, I like them and Taco Bell the best, since I'm not a fan of greasy burgers and fries. I mean, I love burgers, but I prefer those huge ones at the bar across the street. We get from Wendy's about once a month, and I've seen the quality (and the price) on the incline. As a fast food place, it doesn't suck.
  21. Oh oh oh I have another one! Cleaning flour from my counters. I'm about to trudge into the kitchen to make a batch of egg noodles, for dinner tonight, and I know the result will be awesome, I enjoy making the dough and rolling it out. Scraping up dried dough and flour...argh.
  22. That's pretty much what they looked like! Wow, I've heard of nanaimo bars before, and never put the two together in my head. Sub pecans for coconut, bourbon for milk, and vanilla pudding mix for custard powder, and that's exactly right. My hero, thanks!
  23. A long time ago, an online friend gave me a recipe for something called a "Louisiana Sin Bar" It had a pressed crumb crust, with pecans, a creamy vanilla buttery filling spiked with some sort of spirits (I used bourbon), and a melted chocolate layer on top. I did a cursory google search, and came up with nothing (well, lots of stuff about sinning, in bars, in Louisiana, but that's a whole other forum...). So, anyone heard of such a thing? I saved the recipe to an old, and now gone hard drive, and I find myself wanting to include them with this year's holiday baking. They were really rich, and I cut them into bite sized squares, like candy, although they seemed more like a really rich cookie bar. Edit: Upon further digging, I found an entry for them on a menu from a restaurant in Natchitoches, La. Coincidentally, that's where my friends are from. Is it some sort of local goodie?
  24. Opening and draining cans. Tuna, beans, whatever. I really hate doing it. Dealing with raw chicken. I had a serious aversion to the stuff when I was pregnant, the scent of it would make me vomit every single time. I'm still not totally ok with it. If I must, I handle raw poultry with gloves, and leaning way back, so I don't get a whiff. Tedious repetitive tasks. I have ADD like nobody's business. Only folding the first two won tons of a batch is fun. The rest is pure unadulterated torture. Luckily, my husband thrives on this sort of mundane stuff, and he's always willing to make a million little sates, fold nine thousand pirogies, or whatever, after I inevitably lose interest and wander off.
  25. This is the first year in about 20 that I didn't cook one thing for Thanksgiving, but yes...I really getcha. Every year, I do a huge Thanksgiving, for 8-20 people, then start in on "the buckets" which go out to around 35 people, give or take a few, for the holidays. They are comprised of a few varieties of cookies, a few pounds of fudge, and some random new confection that I try every year. Also, as a Christmas gift for a beloved aunt, I cook for her and her brother, a month's worth of multi-course meals. Then, every year, a New Years Eve all night themed cocktail party that I cater. Then, we eat salads, takeout, and one pot meals till March, because I barely even want to step foot in my kitchen.
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